Latest News

February 2022

Meet Gretl Barzotto [Thu, 3 February 2022]

  • Meet Gretl Barzotto -

It would be fair to say that Gretl Lukas and Andrea Barzotto are a couple with a truly cosmopolitan background.

Andrea came to New Zealand from the Friuli region on northwestern Italy - Gretl's father emigrated to New Zealand from Austria. It is not surprising then, that holiday times in Gretl's early years in Wellington were spent enjoying hiking and skiing the great outdoors with her family. She delighted in the discoveries and exploration of the land, earth, water and sky around her - and this encouraged her to see the natural world differently from an early age. There are the mountains, the rivers - and the mysterious 'in-between'.

Did these early discoveries of nature play a part in the couple's decision to settle in Central Otago? Do they play a significant role in Gretl's art practice?

Gretl's keen eye for design and detail was always present. She describes herself as a 'natural sketcher and drawer' and began her career in architectural draughting. This was followed by design school in Sydney and then a very successful career as an interior designer for more than three decades, based in Auckland - and now in Central Otago.

Whereas Gretls interior design practice involves detailed two-dimensional drawings (all by hand), spatial awareness and technical skill, there is definite gestural freedom and flexibility to be found in her art work - she has recently completed a Visual Art degree. There is an element of chance and improvisation, a loss of control - an emotional aspect, if you like, in her work.

Never one to represent ' a tree for tree's sake', Gretl strives to put memory and emotion into her art spaces and encourage the viewer to seek out the very essence of her vision. There will always be a reference point - a story - the rock, the gold, water, sky, earth - all the while keeping these considered works fresh and contemporary. Try to picture yourself in one of her abstract landscapes - maybe not a recognisable landscape - but let your eye and mind run a little free and wild!

She has a fascination with paper and all its qualities - the texture, the edges and folds - its fragility yet versatility and its ability to be manipulated. And she mixes her own inks and pigments - how else would she obtain numerous shades of black? You can peruse some of Gretl's work at the Eade Gallery in Clyde and later this year, by appointment, at her studio.

Together Gretl and Andrea make a great design team. Andrea trained as an architect in Venice, Italy and he too has a keen eye for design and detail - along with 'very green fingers', according to Gretl. One of his first projects in his home town in Italy was the design of a small municipal park incorporating planting and a natural spring. Once settled in Auckland, his creative skills led him to specialist bathroom design, Now the couple works together, as Barzotto Studios, on design and architectural projects. Andrea is a keen fisherman, at home on and on the water and together they cycle and hike.

But back to Central Otago - after several visits south their love for the region had grown too strong to ignore. It conjured up a lifestyle reminiscent of their times spent in Europe, and they especially enjoyed he wonderful local food and wine. So, a piece of land was purchased on Mc Arthur Ridge, and another - this time, very personal home design and build project was born. The first instalment of their project is now finished and work is underway on Gretl's painting studio, due for completion soon. And they have recently been excited to taste the first oil from their planting of 120 olive trees.

Now the Barzotto team are full time in Central Otago residents and loving whatever surprises every new day brings.